Western Regional Pre Gaming…

Preparation for the coming WRBC has been well under way for a bit now. It’s 2:14 AM, and I’m just about to hit the hay before I get up at 7:30 to head in to practice before my bar shift at noon. Tonight, I finally obtained ALL of my wares and did a full run through… something many competitors never even get to do before the event… I’m excited for the coming weekend. The camaraderie alone will be well worth the trip, as I feel life has been too focused on numbers lately, and not nearly enough about the coffee, and those who love it.

The week is going to be rigorous… and that’s okay. I’m not complaining. It’s just amazing how much we’re about to cram into the next few days. The pinnacle of it all will be when Devin and I open the cafe on Thursday, leave from there at 1PM, and arrive in Berkeley at some, hopefully, somewhat lit, hour…  I’m yet to know what time I compete on Friday, but I know I am up that day.

My goals going into this event are simple… The main objective is to simply do my best… Sounds cheesy, and feels so… but here’s the catch. In the past I could have written this off as a bit of practice and a flame to put under myself for the USBC in May… However, the catch is that Intelligentsia has 11 or 12 people interested in competing in the USBC. The rules allow every company to enter 2 competitors… What spots are available after that are divided between the other companies on the waiting list. The part that makes this difficult, is that I share the same banner with a serious handful of real tough competitors… from the reigning Great Lakes Barista Champion, Mike Phillips, to the well-experienced Amber Sather… Then there’s the local crowd in LA… Both Kyle Glanville and Nick Griffith… Of course, there’s Devin, who’s getting better with every practice session… In other words, I hope to see all of you in May… However, if I do, it won’t have been an easy feat.

Other goals are also kind of obvious… I would love to beat my score from the Southwest Regional in Las Vegas. I know that the judges were very generous and even coming close to the score I obtained will be a challenge. I also have a couple terrible habits that keep popping up in practice, and I’d love to see those die the moment I hit that start button.

It’s going to be a great weekend in Berkeley. We’re not traveling alone either… Our good friends, Dustin and Eve are tagging along… Monica is coming with me… and some of our regulars, Jon and Kistren will be there as well. So, we’ll have some LA based fans to help us rock the house…  To those who will be there… Let’s do this! To those who will remain distant… I’m sorry. Oh, and the especially sad part is that since we’re all heading north, Marcus Boni will be at the store making sure it survives without us… So no late night karaoke!


GLRBC and a Morrissey!

So much is happening as I sit here. The GLRBC is happening in Milwaukee. Sure wish I could be there to see the Chicago Barista Team do their thang… Best of luck to all from LA! Finalist should be announced not too long from now… fingers crossed. If you’ve seen the pictures, then you’ve seen the jackets… Good Lord! They look unified…

There’s only one thing that could console me, since I’m here and not there… and he landed yesterday. Mr. Flying Thud, himself, the one and only… the Great Stephen Morrissey, Ireland’s triple crown king, is here for stint… a stint that includes St. Patty’s! Hell yes… grab your whiskey drinkin’ shoes, it’s that time… This does complicate things a bit for me. Although some of you may not believe it, I was trying to hold tight rules on myself and not drink alcohol until after the coming Western Regional… well, fuck it! Stephen’s here…

Something also happened in the last week that is remarkable as well. Not to spew too many details of the secret work of K.C. O’Keefe, but something major occurred that will have us roasting coffee in Los Angeles sooner than later.

Well, the Western Regional is approaching. Hopefully, all who can, will stop by. There will be the legendary 4th machine… So far, it’s very regulated. I witnessed Kyle filling out the paper work so we can serve our coffee there… I wonder if Ken David’s has to give the final okay to each roaster before their coffee can be used… He will be giving a couple talks at the event! Well, back to the bar for me. Time to pull some shots…

March in motion.

Well, it’s back to the grind for me. I’ve been terribly lazy the last week and haven’t done much training or posting on coffee. I have, however, been checking on constantly with my friend, Stephen Morrissey, to see how he faired in the Irish Barista Competition. I must congratulate him on his third victory of the competition year… He is the Irish cupping, latte art, and barista champion!

I think I’ve finally nailed a signature beverage for the Western Regional. I’ll save the details so the judges can hear them first. It’s relatively delicious and I feel that it leaves room for play between the Western and the US. Though I haven’t been in the lab, the competition has been on my mind and I’m starting to sweat a bit… mostly because the official word is that Heather Perry will be returning to compete in the regional. I expected this for Minneapolis, but not Berkley.

Sunday, I saw what I am calling my best shift ever at our coffee bar. It was one of those days many would call understaffed. From my start at 1PM, we had 4 people on shift. At 4PM, we lost one of those people. Myself, our manager~ Ty McNulty, and barista Jared Linzmeier all closed the bar together. We were slammed like I’ve never seen before. The line was out the arches till 7:30. However, we all dug in and pumped out coffee all day long with relatively smiling faces.

Now, I say this was the best day because it was what business owners dream of. A long, fast moving line, operated by a minimal amount of employees, and having people by your side you can rely on. It was a dream. Walking out the door, I felt like it was a day that showed more of the potential as to what this coffee bar can be. The tips were phenomenal and I was happy.  Now, I’m crossing my fingers, hoping we can maintain the staff we currently have, and get them all up to speed, as to have more reliable crews and days like this.

Finally, I’m curious as to what many of you out there are doing in response to cell phones… and those who have them, but lack etiquette. I’ve heard stories, seen signs, but am curious as to what else is out there. We’ve had a recent outbreak of really bad cell phone behavior and would like some more ideas on how to manage it…

Celebrations All Around

Everyone knows I have an opinion about everything. It’s true, but rarely do I get as excited as I did when I found out that Jon Lewis is the first ever Mountain Region Barista Champion. He’s a well deserving man for so many reasons. Congratulations, Jon!

Now, as many of you have probably read, Jon will not be able to make it to Minneapolis. Some how the celebration(s) will not be the same without this man.

In other celebratory news, Nick Griffith turned 28 this past week. His daughter, Lily will be 3 this week. Happy birthday to you both!

Finally, if you happen to get the chance, you need to have a cup of Intelligentsia’s new Rwanda Zirikana… This is the first year that this coffee comes to us officially Direct Trade. Mr. Geoff Watts has been pioneering this project for a bit, and this year, it’s official. The coffee deep in flavor, sits heavy on the palate, but remains elegant and sweet. Make sure to get your hands on this wonderful coffee before we sell out… Because this one won’t take long.